Strafe FR - The Bird Was Stolen

CD – 14 tracks – 63 minutes
First edition of 500

Strafe Für Rebellion is Bernd Kastner and Siegfried M. Syniuga
All songs recorded by Strafe F.R. in 2017 at STRAFE Studio, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Thanks to Detlef Klepsch for technical support and for helping with the mix down.

Mastered by Denis Blackham

Track listing:

1. Jovian Tempest
2. Prepper's Home
3. Aconite
4. Anophelis
5. Cap de Barbaria
6. Pianosmoke
7. Flare
8. Medusa
9. Golden Stomach
10. Dictator
11. Himmelgeist
12. Megalitic
13. Violet Sun
14. Towton

The bird was stolen because the donkey was sleepy

Based in Düsseldorf, Germany, Strafe F.R. is a long-term collaboration between the artists Bernd Kastner and S. M. Syniuga, which started in 1979. After a long period of hibernation, The Bird Was Stolen marks their return to Touch following four previous releases in the 80s and early 90s.

From their early connection with the local punk and new wave scene, centred around the Ratinger Hof in Düsseldorf, Strafe went on to develop a unique and influential form of sound sculpture that pioneered the use of field recordings alongside home-made instruments and the use of the studio as a performance space.

A new track, ‘Virgin’, which appeared on the recent Touch Movements CD/book, gave an early indication that they are back at the peak of their powers. The Bird Was Stolen presents 14 new compositions that push the signature sound of Strafe F.R.

1. We have a piano that is somehow completely bare-boned as if a butcher had been at work. The piano is lying on its back – we can climb into its corpse. The piano strings are easy to access and we prepare them with anything that influences a possible recording. Loudspeakers are installed. Inside the piano we play bass and guitar to use the resonance of the strings of the piano. Pianosmoke was recorded in this way.
2. Sound sources are often ‘accidents’. We were recording with our old Uher Portable Tape Recorder –
all of a sudden the machine developed a strange malfunction: the Uher had problems with its engine. Himmelgeist was born. The recorder began to ‘scratch’ like a vinyl record, but it was the recorder doing everything itself; we could also manipulate the speed with our hands. This was magnificent. Strange rhythms just happened, the tape recorder did it... We are thankful that we managed to record all of this.
3. We often amplify sounds quite loudly, that actually have a very low natural dynamic. This is interesting when recording guitar, piano and the human voice... To reduce the normal recording level by an extreme and amplify the soft, low sounds.

It all started with the eagle, Eaton, who was eating the liver of Prometheus. Prometheus was a Titan, not a god. He was teaching humans how to make fire and was punished by the gods for having done that.

Through this, the humans experienced the meaning of Strafe Für Rebellion
(in English, ‘Punishment for rebellion’). Ever since this happened, the members of SFR register peculiarities and specific incidents as an incitement to make music.

Some examples are as follows:
When searching for new sounds inside the bowels of a piano we occasionally found the sleeping Franz Liszt. Underneath the piano pedal, the MC5 were glued. Unfortunately the mites have eaten all of our socially and critically-engaged texts.

Recently, neozea, similar to indian parrots, fly above our streets. They are able to talk, and they scream: ‘No Guitars!’. Several foxes devoured the analog tapes from our old tape recorder; there are Chinese mitten crabs living inside the bass drum. A bullfrog has eaten up the marsh frog population that we once recorded at a nearby airport. Large blowflies are sitting on the guest chair in our studio lounge.

The helicopters belonging to German army are in a desperate condition. However, the poor maintenance of the machines has unleashed a fantastic new sound. The same way that Prometheus’s liver is renewed and grows again each night, happens also to the Zeitgeist. Because of this, we must continue to work on the music. We cannot stop and will never finish.

There is vanilla fudge in the coconut trees.
Artwork & photography: Jon Wozencroft

Female vocal: Caterina De Re
Male vocals: Strafe F.R.


Toneshift (USA):

Long-running German duo Strafe F.R. has been at it since way back in ’79 and The Bird Was Stolen is their first recording on Touch since four releases between the 80’s and early 90’s. Next week (5/24) Bernd Kastner and Siegfried Michail Syniuga unveil this new album in an edition of 500 on CD (and Digital) with fourteen tracks, and a running time of just over an hour. As Jovian Tempest opens we enter a bit of a sacred and mysterious space. What sounds like radio channeling pairs well with other frequencies and effects. It’s definitely in a gray area and I recommend that you may want to listen in the dark. Indistinguishable field recordings of moving elements are embedded with exquisite corpse harmonies on Prepper’s Home where rhythmic percussion rises into the mix. It’s warming and pent up until a remodeled voice emerges on Aconite accompanied by charged guitar and fiery electronics.

The album delves into areas of balmy funk and post-rock, all the while erasing any evidence of genre identification. Then comes Caterina De Re who assists with random vocalese on Anophelis and elsewhere. Her voice is a lighter version that reads like a combo of titans Lydia Lunch and Nina Hagen. The under-the-radar, yet playful experimentation on The Bird Was Stolen has a passing tin echo like a bell tolling in various places. Instead of opting for a constant tone drone, the two fabricate shorter puzzle pieces like a classic film director shaping a plot between Cap de Barbaria and Pianosmoke. So many twists and turns here, even a alien siren call evoking Close Encounters of the Third Kind (yes, Spielberg) on the quirky track Flare. It’s warm and fluid, it’s awkward and expressive. As spelled out Strafe Für Rebellion share about their process in a bit of stream of consciousness:

“When searching for new sounds inside the bowels of a piano we occasionally found the sleeping Franz Liszt. Underneath the piano pedal, an MC5 sticker was glued to it. Unfortunately the mites have eaten all of our socially and critically-engaged texts.”

In this light the tracks assign a sense of timeless references that act as both incidental music, and complete vignettes. They are in the lab concocting a better beast and delivering a formula like nothing out there right now. Dictator is just a jaw-dropping melange, a transection of Coil, People Like Us and early Ministry without any overt pop spirit whatsoever. Take a copter beat and walk the aisles to old-school Woolworth’s background muzak, add some intermittent cartoonisms and you have Himmelgeist. They saved a bit of psychedelia for the very end in the form of a trippy guitar laden Towton. Stripping down rock n’ roll to its barest and blend with male and female vocals, contorted synths run on fumes, and there you have it. This is one of those records that traverses a lot of territory without taking stock in one camp or another, modern gypsy music with a spiritual-fluid byline. [TJ Norris]

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Strafe FR - The Bird Was Stolen

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